Singaporebrides | Relationships

April 2021

8 Ways to Deal When Your Parents Try to Take Over Your Wedding

Wedding planning is tough enough without controlling parents! These tips for dealing with overbearing parents might help.

You’re newly engaged and super excited to start planning your wedding, but when your parents find out about your intimate outdoor wedding venue and how you’re serving food from your favourite brunch date café, they loudly voice their disagreement and tell you what they expect you to do instead. How can you hold the wedding of your dreams when your parents seem bent on controlling it?

Almost all couples have disagreements with their parents on how they celebrate their weddings. Some parents can’t get behind modern wedding trends, while others are concerned with their “face” if a child’s wedding looks too casual or too small. Where you’re spending money, who’s paying for the wedding, what colours and traditions are auspicious, and whom (and how many people!) to invite—these are all common issues that crop up between a couple and their parents during the wedding planning.

Parental meddling can be very frustrating, so it may be helpful to take a step back and remember that your wedding is also a cause for celebration for your parents. They’re happy for you and proud of your milestone, and understandably also want to celebrate your marriage and show off their children in the best light. As a wedding is a cause for celebration for the whole family, it’s only reasonable to listen to (but not necessarily act on) your parents’ suggestions and objections. However, if they’re being too overbearing, we have some tips that may help!

Paige and Wilson’s Quirky and Intimate Solemnisation at the Night Safari Singapore by Leslie Photography

1. Set Expectations Early

Try to prevent arguments from even happening by setting expectations as early as possible. Let your parents know what kind of wedding you intend to hold once you’ve both decided on your wedding vibe, especially if you know that it’s different from what they’re picturing.

2. Assume the Best

If they’re asking lots of questions about your café menu or your pet walking down the aisle, don’t immediately get annoyed or jump to the conclusion that they’re criticising you. They may just be very unfamiliar with modern wedding trends and need a little help understanding what’s happening so they can imagine what your wedding day will look like.

3. Have a prior guest list discussion

The guest list is another common source of conflict between couples and their parents. Your parents may want to invite long lists of extended relatives or their colleagues whom you’ve never even met, when you’ve envisioned an intimate wedding or when your wedding venue’s capacity simply doesn’t accommodate their guest requests. To avoid potential arguments, discuss your guest list with your significant other before going to your parents, and come up with a figure for your parents’ guest head count. Let them know your venue’s capacity limits, as well as the current COVID-19 wedding regulation limit of 100 attendees. For everyone else, there’s always live-streaming!

A Dreamy Sunset-to-Dusk Styled Shoot by Withminn Photography

4. Pay for It

A lot of wedding power struggles stem from parents paying for part or all of the wedding. It’s generous of your parents to offer to contribute to your wedding expenses, but if that causes a lot of friction because they feel that they should have a major say in your wedding choices, then you might want to consider scaling down your wedding and paying for it yourselves. After all, it’s only fair that the person paying for the wedding venue be allowed to have an opinion about it. If you’re paying for your own wedding but still encounter a lot of unwanted opinions about your choices, gently let your parents know that since it’s your money, you should be the one choosing how to spend it.

5. Convince their tastebuds

Your parents might be expecting a conventional 8 or 9-course Chinese set menu, but you’re planning otherwise. If they’re sceptical when you tell them you intend to serve Italian or Modern Australian cuisine at your wedding, convince them by organising a food tasting. They’ll get a chance to see your venue and experience the service, and after tasting the food, they should understand why you chose your menu. If their concern is for elderly relatives who may not be used to Western dishes, try to choose items that are more likely to be crowd pleasers, or offer your guests a choice of main.

Yeon Hee and Pei Qian’s Elegant Destination Wedding at Andaz Singapore by John15 Photography

6. Delegate small tasks

A great way to get parents feeling involved is to delegate smaller items to them. Giving them tasks helps them feel included and builds everyone’s excitement for your big day. Let them help out with items that you don’t have strong opinions about so that you don’t end up fighting over these tasks. Don’t much care about the tea ceremony? Let them take over the organising. They want to incorporate some traditions? Ask them to procure the necessary items.

7. Stick to your guns

While you want to avoid conflict and preserve happy relationships with your parents and your in-laws in the lead up to your wedding, you shouldn’t have to give up your vision to appease them. Your wedding will matter the most to you, so don’t compromise on things and regret later that your once-in-a-lifetime celebration looked and felt different from what you truly wanted. If your parents are pushing for something you don’t want, gently remind them that although you respect their opinions, it’s your wedding day, and it is supposed to be about the two of you.

Lalu and Chris’ Bright and Colourful Sapa-Inspired Backyard Wedding by Alvelyn Alko

8. Set boundaries

Unfortunately, existing tension in family relationships will come to the fore during wedding planning. In dysfunctional families, parents may be so controlling that they threaten to take back their offer to pay for the wedding, or even refuse to attend if their wishes are not met. While the goal is for honest discussion and negotiation so that both you and your parents leave with a compromise, when faced with the threat of your parents’ absence at your wedding, you have to sit down with your partner and decide what is more important to you—having the item you’re arguing about, or having your parents attend your union.

However, if your parents prove unwilling to negotiate at all and insist on issuing ultimatums, it’s possible that the real problem is an issue of control. Then, it’s best to set appropriate boundaries during the wedding to avoid giving controlling parents the impression that they are allowed to meddle in your married life after the wedding.

Wedding planning isn’t easy to begin with, and juggling the expectations of your families can add to your stress. We hope that these tips help you find the delicate balance between happy parental and in-law relationships, and a wedding that’s authentic to you.

Credits: Feature image from Rachel and Aaron’s Intimate and Unplugged Wedding at Maison Miaja by Andri Tei Photography

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8 Ways to Deal When Your Parents Try to Take Over Your Wedding